Scandinavian lifelong learning integrates just relations: it happens here, too
In a recent column in the New York Times, David Brooks reflected on the high levels of economic productivity, social equality, social trust and personal happiness in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
He attributes their living quality to their "generations of phenomenal educational policy," seeing education as "Bildung," a German word he says reflects "the complete moral, emotional, intellectual and civic transformation of the person" through lifelong learning.
Rather than just teaching skills, Bildung helps people understand systems and relationships between self and society. It's about maturing to take personal responsibility "towards family, friends, fellow citizens, society, humanity, the world, while enjoying bigger personal, moral and existential freedoms," helping people see circles of connection they need to thrive.
In the midst of the competition schools often foster to help people survive in this culture, we could bemoan that we don't have that, but we do. Many media share perspectives that help people see their interconnection and inspire caring for the wellbeing of family, community and society.
We hope The Fig Tree and Resource Directory help do that, but it wouldn't happen without all the people we encounter, the people whose stories and insights express that reality.
It's easy as we see the necessary media stories about the tumult as national leaders cave in to corruption based only on self-interest, accumulating wealth and self-protection. The retaliatory mindset we see hardly fosters on a national level the trust and true loyalty that come from nurturing relationships and connections that seek peace, justice, love and community.
Listening to those who spoke for the benefit video, many whom I have known for many years, I rejoiced hearing how their perspectives, insights and persistence have grown. Beyond the video clips on value about The Fig Tree, we will include more of their comments on what they do online.
Those who shared in workshops and plenaries at the Eastern Washington Legislative Conference found new approaches to many age-old concerns, words of inspiration about the influence of shareholder advocacy and responsible investing, words of innuendos to consider on racism and white supremacy, words of insight about the intersection of the region's growing economy and the housing squeeze.
How easy to read David's column on Bildung and think that's not happening here because our education system doesn't foster that, but it does. Where it falls short, our faith communities continue to promote such education—with Bildung being "formation"—to build communities that care and seek justice for everyone.
After the encounters with people in preparing each Fig Tree, I continue to come away refreshed and amazed at all that people right here are doing.
Mary Stamp - editor
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March, 2020